As marketers, we are contending with unprecedented complexity and pressure to deliver results in the digital era. Kapost and other B2B marketing experts, including SiriusDecisions, advocate for the implementation of a content operation to manage this pressure and complexity.
Most marketing departments struggle with teams working in disconnected silos. Content operations is the solution, providing a framework for teams to align around a common strategy, create core content, and then reuse that material to feed all of the various channels, segments, buying stages, geographies, etc.
Sounds great, right? But getting to that level of maturity requires a lot of work.
Getting buy-in from leadership is straightforward because the benefits for them are clear. They can consistently execute their strategy despite digital complexity, produce a consistently effective customer experience, and gain necessary insight to further refine strategy.
The benefits of a content operation are equally clear to those who previously tried to manage the chaos. Marketing managers have struggled in a tornado of spreadsheets, emails, and meetings trying—often in vain—to bring about order. With a content operation, these managers can finally effectively steer the content process in an organized and efficient direction.
Dreams vs. Reality: The Current State of the Marketing Team
But what about the other 90% of marketers on the front lines? Like any business process, a content operation does require work, but the additional work seems to fall more on their shoulders. So how exactly does a content operation benefit front-line marketers?
Before talking about how the content operation helps front-line marketers, let’s talk about what we want to spend our time doing and the roadblocks preventing us from doing so.
- Demand gen: I bet you want to optimize your lead scoring, lead ranking, and lead routing processes
- Product marketers: I’m guessing you want time to research competitors and how customers use your product
- Creative services: I have to assume you’d like to see your amazing designs published on the website, blog, sales collateral, and event booths
These are your goals, and perhaps why you love being a marketer, but what is the reality of your day-to-day?
In the current siloed, chaotic state, most marketers end up with two jobs. The first is the official job, the stuff we signed up for—managing a channel, generating demand, guiding a segment, or marketing a product. The second is the additional burden—creating all of the content for that channel, segment, or product from scratch, independently.
This is a gigantic burden. SiriusDecisions points out that content creation occupies 40-55% of every marketer’s time. But SiriusDecisions also points out that most of that content is wasted: ⅓ of content is wasted because it is strategically misaligned and ⅓ is wasted because it can’t be found. Not only do we not get to focus on the parts of our job that we want to, most of the content we create is for nothing. Ouch.
The Benefits of a Content Operation
Believe it or not, if a content operation is implemented and managed correctly, there is opportunity to spend dramatically less time creating content from scratch—and more time working on the parts of your job that you love.
Enter the content pillar.
The greatest improvements within the content operation are achieved through the pillar approach. It’s a concept ingrained into Kapost’s DNA:
- “How to Create Your First Content Pillar”
- “A Real Life Example of a Content Pillar”
- The Pillar Approach to Content Operations [On-Demand Webinar]
To summarize the pillar approach, marketing creates core content material—an eBook or white paper, termed a “pillar”—for each initiative or campaign. And then each team reuses and repurposes this material to fill their needs. For example, corporate communications takes the dozen chapters of the eBook and uses them to publish to the blog. Demand gen then writes emails to engage their database using snippets from those blog posts or quotes from the eBook chapters. A segment marketer takes the eBook for the CMO persona and then adjusts it to speak to the CIO persona. And so on.
As a result of the pillar creation model, the time you are spending creating content rapidly declines. The time you spend on content is no longer creating from scratch, but simply repurposing, freeing up a lot more time to focus on your official role. The channel marketer can optimize the performance of their channel. The segment marketer can more deeply research their segment. The product marketer can develop the key differentiators of their product, and so on and so forth. For creative and design teams, the benefit of this approach is less around minimizing the time you spend creating content, but ensuring the work you create is leveraged across all teams, tools and channels.
Still not convinced? Let’s look at some numbers.
The Bottom Line for Front-Line Marketers
Today, without a content operation, we spend 45% of our time creating content. Of that content, ⅔ is wasted (red) meaning ⅓ is useful (blue). Assuming we spend 5% of our time on overhead work (orange), we are left with about half of our time on the work we want to be focused on (green). With a highly functioning content operation, we may double the overhead to 10% of our time, but, as a result, the wasted content falls to 10%.
I know, I was hoping to see this go to zero too, but we’ll be conservative. Let’s also assume that we spend the same amount of time on valuable content, but with a content operation. it’s time repurposing versus creating from scratch. All of a sudden we have a lot more time for the fun stuff (or sneaking out a bit early on a Friday afternoon)!
So yes, much as with any process change, a content operation imposes changes and costs on participants, bBut the benefits are tremendous for marketing leaders, for campaign coordinators, and the marketing team as a whole. When wasted efforts are replaced with the content pillar, front-line marketers can expect dramatic reductions in the amount of original content they need to create, freeing up more time for the fun stuff: strategic research and planning, finessing and testing, and seeing your great work take the world by storm.